What We Saw: Week 15

Vikings and Raiders and Jaguars - oh my!

Falcons @ Saints

Final Score: Saints 21, Falcons 18

Writer: Justin Havelock (@HavelockJustin on Twitter)


Desmond Ridder made his first career NFL appearance in Week 15 and became the first quarterback to debut with the Atlanta Falcons since Matt Ryan in 2008. This NFC South division rivalry proved a bit more than the Falcons’ rookie could handle though.

The New Orleans Saints needed a win to stay alive in the division and veteran quarterback Andy Dalton as well as “Don’t-tell-me-I’m-not-a-quarterback” Taysom Hill came through for the Saints. New Orleans had been held to less than 17 points in four of their last five games coming into this matchup. This may be their magic number, however, as the Saints only needed 21 points to win.


Atlanta Falcons




Desmond Ridder: 13/26, 97 Yards | 6 Carries, 38 Yards


On the Atlanta Falcons’ opening drive, Ridder narrowly avoided a sack from defensive linemen Cam Jordan and David Onyemata. The rookie dropped back in the pocket, and while throwing on the run made a nice sideline pass to MyCole Pruitt that went right through the tight end’s hands.

The young quarterback struggled with his progressions throughout the game as he appeared to wait for pressure to come while he scanned downfield instead of getting the ball out quickly in the short passing game or stepping up for a decisive rush attempt. According to pre-game interviews, Ridder considered his biggest weakness to be “knowing when to give up”, and unlike his first taste of NFL action, this actually tracked pretty well.

The former Cincinnati Bearcat was known in college as a threat on the ground with 2179 career rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns. However, Ridder’s longest run of the game came on the final play against a prevent defense and he stepped out of bounds as he clearly hadn’t realized that the clock would continue to run, ending the game.



Running Back


Tyler Allgeier: 17 Carries, 139 Yards, TD | 1 Target, 1 Reception, -3 Yards

Cordarrelle Patterson: 14 Carries, 52 Yards, TD | 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 0 Yards

Avery Williams: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 10 Yards

Caleb Huntley: 1 Carry, 2 Yards


Despite only one carry in the first quarter, Tyler Allgeier had a career day. The rookie set new highs in both rush attempts and rushing yards versus the New Orleans Saints, as well as scoring his second career touchdown. Allgeier racked up 8.2 Yards Per Carry (YPC) against a mediocre Saints run defense that ranked 19th in the league with an average of 125 rushing yards allowed. The Falcons running back also managed a first-down conversion on 7/17 carries, including five on third and fourth down situations.

Allgeier had his biggest play of the game early in the second half on 3rd & 1, as he shed a tackle and found himself wide open for a 43-yard run that he had a chance to take all the way to the house.



The 22-year-old saved some of his best work for last. On his final carry, Allgeier broke two tackles, then planted his feet as he started going down to the ground to instead drive backward against a third defender and convert the first down.

While Allgeier showed that he may be the future of this backfield, Cordarrelle Patterson continued to earn a timeshare with the rookie running back. Both Patterson and Allgeier saw an even four red zone carries apiece. In the fourth quarter, the veteran ran with a full head of steam into Shy Tuttle, bounced off the 6’3″, 300 lb defensive tackle, and into the endzone for his first touchdown since Week 9.

Over Atlanta’s past four games, the two running backs are tied with 46 carries. Although Allgeier led the way with 300 rushing yards for 6.5 YPC during that span, Patterson’s 216 rushing yards for 4.7 YPC have ensured him a role in the Falcons’ backfield.

Sophomore Caleb Huntley left the game with an injured ankle after just one carry.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Drake London: 11 Targets, 7 Receptions, 70 Yards, Fumble (Lost)

MyCole Pruitt: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 20 Yards

Olamide Zaccheaus: 3 Targets

Anthony Firkser: 2 Targets

Damiere Byrd: 1 Target

Feleipe Franks: 1 Carry, 0 Yards


The bulk of the receiving work fell on Drake London in Week 15, as he was one of three players on the Atlanta Falcons offense, and the only wide receiver, that recorded positive receiving yards in Desmond Ridder’s NFL debut. London spent plenty of time working out with Ridder during the offseason, and it showed as the rookie quarterback leaned heavily on him to the tune of a 42% target share (11/26) and 72% of Atlanta’s receiving yards (70/97). In spite of a lackluster performance from Ridder, the wideout had seven receptions, his most since Week 2.

London and Ridder displayed their connection in the second quarter as the 21-year-old made a one-handed catch, tucking the ball into his body while Alontae Taylor shoved him out of bounds.



During the fourth quarter, the rookie wide receiver completed a pass over the middle on 4th & 5 but the ball was punched out by safety Justin Evans as London was dragged down. The fumble went right into the hands of the defense to give the Saints the football just outside of the final two-minute warning.

MyCole Pruitt finished second on the Falcons’ offense in receiving yards due to Ridder’s struggles in the passing game. It was Pruitt that caught Ridder’s first career completion after his quarterback got turned around on a screen pass for the open Tyler Allgeier, who instead became the lead blocker for the 30-year-old tight end. Late in the fourth quarter, the veteran also completed Ridder’s longest pass of the day as Pruitt made a 14-yard catch over the middle.

The lone target of the day for Damiere Byrd was actually scored incorrectly during the game by the NFL, as the pass was clearly intended for Anthony Firkser. A high pass from Ridder went off Firkser’s fingertips and dropped in the area of Byrd. Between Firkser, Byrd, and Olamide Zaccheaus, it was the tight end that stood out the most with all of his targets coming in third and long situations. Ridder would need to register well over a 50% completion percentage though for anyone beyond London to look good in this passing game.


New Orleans Saints




Andy Dalton: 11/17, 151 Yards, 2 TD | 2 Carries, -1 Yard


Starting quarterback Andy Dalton continued his bounce-back season with the New Orleans Saints as he has now completed 93 passes since throwing his last interception. Dalton also had the third-highest passer rating on first and second-down situations coming into Week 15.

After throwing a touchdown to Juwan Johnson on the opening drive, the 35-year-old ran into some trouble on his next drive after a Grady Jarrett tackle for loss and a false start from the quarterback himself quickly turned a 2nd & inches into 3rd & 9. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter then landed the first hit while Jarrett brought down Dalton to finish off the sack, as the pair shut down the Saints’ offense and forced a punt following back-to-back New Orleans touchdown drives.


Running Back


Alvin Kamara: 21 Carries, 91 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 13 Yards

David Johnson: 4 Carries, 12 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)

Adam Prentice: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards


Alvin Kamara registered his third game of 90+ rushing yards this season as he faced off against an Atlanta Falcons defense that ranked 24th in the league while allowing an average of 129.5 rushing yards per game. This game was somewhat of a disappointment for the 27-year-old with three tackles for a loss, only six rush attempts for more than five rushing yards and a pair of red zone touches. Kamara’s explosiveness was limited by the Falcons’ run defense too as none of his carries were over 13 rushing yards and he extended his scoreless streak to six consecutive games while he failed to find his second rushing touchdown of the season.

Veteran running back David Johnson had a few short carries before he lost a fumble inside the red zone and was banished to the sidelines for the rest of this game. Since joining the Saints, Johnson has posted a total of five carries for eight rushing yards and a fumble, so it should be worth noting that Eno Benjamin was claimed on Wednesday by New Orleans. Benjamin was a healthy scratch in Week 15 and could make his debut with the Saints next week.

Don’t forget that Taysom Hill should continue to be the true backup to Kamara in the run game, at least in terms of rushing attempts.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Rashid Shaheed: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 95 Yards, TD

Juwan Johnson: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 67 Yards, 2 TD

Chris Olave: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 53 Yards

Taysom Hill: 2/2, 80 Yards, TD | 7 Carries, 30 Yards, Fumble (Recovered)

Jarvis Landry: 1 Target

Adam Trautman: 1 Target


Early in the first quarter, rookie wide receiver Rashid Shaheed executed a quick double-move on a Corner Post route to fake out safety Richie Grant and create space downfield to separate from the defender. Shaheed flashed his speed and Yards After Catch (YAC) ability as he ran the football 35 yards straight into the endzone for a 68-yard score. The 24-year-old undrafted free agent has now tied Alvin Kamara with two receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, despite having only 18 touches to Kamara’s 217 touches.





Juwan Johnson has quietly run away with the role of the New Orleans Saints’ top scorer this season. Johnson scored twice to record his seventh touchdown in his last seven games which moved him up to second in receiving touchdowns at the tight end position behind only Travis Kelce.

On his first touchdown of the day, Johnson caught a short pass from Andy Dalton and shed three tackles on a catch-and-run into the endzone. The initial ruling on the field was that the wide receiver-turned-tight end came up short at the goal line but the call was quickly overturned on video review as he was wise enough to stretch his arm out while going down to the ground and broke the plane of the endzone.



Wide receiver Chris Olave had a quiet day (relatively speaking). While the rookie saw his fewest targets since Week 1, he delivered a first-down conversion on all three of his receptions. Olave built separation easily from the Falcons’ defense to get open in zone coverage for a first-quarter catch-and-run on a Curl route. Later in the half, the Saints’ wideout beat coverage with a double move, cut and turned for a 21-yard reception. Olave made another big play during the third quarter on a low pass from Dalton and kept the ball from touching the ground to pick up 16 yards. The 22-year-old wide receiver was only hindered by a low passing volume.

On his first play of the day, Taysom Hill threw the second-longest pass completion of his career for a 68-yard touchdown to Shaheed. The Saints’ gadget player was mostly used as a rushing threat behind Kamara as he put up 4.3 YPC and had zero targets in Week 15. Hill made a rare mistake in the fourth quarter as he fumbled the handoff but managed to recover the football himself.

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